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Tuesday, October 16, 2012
First Pitch: Hughes calls Verlander 'human'

By Andrew Marchand




With the Yankees' offense helpless so far, Phil Hughes may have to match Justin Verlander zero for zero.

"The game plan that we have going into it is to shut down the team as best we can," Hughes said. "So that doesn't change. I'm trying to throw up as many zeros as I can. So it doesn't really affect it either way. I try to go out there, like I said, and throw the best game I can and trust that our guys are going to score some runs. And obviously Verlander is a great pitcher, but he is human and we know we can score off him. I just have to do a better job than he does. It's going to be a challenge, but, like I said, I'm looking forward to it."

Hughes pitched in Detroit twice this season. The Yankees would take a repeat of one, not the other. In his first start against the Tigers on June 3, Hughes threw his only complete game of the season, allowing just one run and four hits. He struck out eight and walked three. On Aug. 7, Hughes lasted until one out in the fifth, giving up four runs on eight hits, including a Miguel Cabrera solo shot.

In 24 plate appearances against Hughes, Cabrera's OPS is 1.504. Jhonny Peralta is the other Tiger, who has really had his way with Hughes. In 21 plate appearances, his OPS is 1.224. Prince Fielder has just six at-bats against Hughes (he is 1-for-6, with a home run).

So Hughes can feel pretty confident going into Detroit tonight. If things don't change for the Yankees' offense, he has to be more than confident -- he may have to be perfect.

UP NOW: Ian O'Connor on Alex Rodriguez. My column saying the Yankees should bench Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says it is a possibility.

ON DECK: Wallace Matthews, Ian and I will be in Detroit. Check us all over ESPN Radio and TV and, of course, here on the blog and our site. Thanks for reading, watching and listening.

IN THE HOLE: News all day and Mark Simon's W2W4 for Game 3.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is your Game 3 lineup?